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Some athletes enter a coaching program after considerable experience and they know exactly where their performance zones are. For example, if they have trained for and competed in time trials before, they probably have a good idea of their functional threshold power as measured in watts and/or their lactate threshold heart rate. When this is the case, I will use the athlete’s previous data and start building training workouts based on that data.

But since such measurements change and drift over time, it is always a good idea to periodically measure them with field testing. Athletes new to racing or coaching methods should definitely establish their heart rate training zones by conducting field tests with a heart rate monitor. If the athlete has a power meter, we will also establish wattage values for training zones. During consultations I will explain how to conduct your field tests and what information to record and share with me. A field test will be conducted when an athlete is rested, well warmed up, and in a place that can be repeated later during the year so field test data can be compared to other tests. I will establish for you the duration of the field test and explain to you how, tactically, to ride it. You will choose a safe route on roads with good pavement, wide shoulder, little traffic and no stop signs or traffic lights. If such a venue is not available to you, the field test can be conducted on a stationary trainer.

For century riders and general fitness riders, determining heart rate zones through field tests might seem a little intimidating at first because they are extremely hard (though controlled) efforts. If that is the case, there are other methods we can use to establish training zones and intensities until you are ready to take a field test.